New York, 29 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) – US President Donald Trump said Saturday a full quarantine will not be needed in the New York area after all, amid a growing coronavirus death toll in the region and nationwide.
Trump tweeted that he had instead asked for a “strong” travel advisory to be issued after consultations with the White House coronavirus task face and the governors of the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump wrote.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that residents of the three states would be urged to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.
Updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the advisory was effective immediately and would be implemented at the discretion of state governors.
The domestic travel advisory “does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply,” the CDC said in a statement on its website.
The death toll from the coronavirus crisis in the country has surpassed 2,000. Fatalities have doubled in the country since Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In comments at the White House earlier, the US president had suggested a possible New York area quarantine.
“There’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short-term, two weeks on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” Trump said.
He said New York residents were leaving the state and “we don’t want that,” adding that the quarantine restricts such travel and would be “enforceable.”
Federal restrictions on travel would have been a significant escalation on the current orders from the state governor Andrew Cuomo for New York residents to remain at home, which are largely being enforced through social pressure.
Trump’s earlier statement was met with surprise by Cuomo, who said Trump did not mention a state-wide quarantine in a phone call between the leaders earlier on the same day.
Cuomo said his state has over 52,000 reported cases of coronavirus, amounting to nearly half of all reported cases nationwide.
Meanwhile, New York is preparing for an apex in cases within 14 to 21 days and is stockpiling medical equipment, Cuomo said.
“When that curve hits the highest point it is too late to try to acquire what you need,” Cuomo said at a press conference. “Acquire what you need now.”
The US had the highest number of virus cases worldwide as of Saturday, with more than 121,000 people recorded as being infected, according to the Johns Hopkins tally.
Outside New York, coronavirus hotspots are growing in Los Angeles, Chicago and New Orleans, as well as other urban centres.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said Saturday that people hospitalized in intensive care units more than doubled overnight to 410, while general hospitalizations increased over 38 per cent.
In Louisiana, cases now amount to over 3,300, according to the state’s governor, John Bel Edwards.
Globally, cases of the coronavirus topped 600,000 on Saturday, just two days after the world hit the landmark total of half a million. The pandemic has claimed over 30,000 lives, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
To help alleviate the state’s embattled healthcare providers, a Navy hospital departed to New York on Saturday and is expected to dock there on Monday.
Cuomo added that New York state has postponed its presidential primary from April to June – adding to a growing list of over 10 states – amid the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the United Nations announced that it will be donating a quarter of a million protective face masks stored at UN headquarters in New York to the United States.